Written By : Eleni McDermott
Original Article found at Seniors List: Click here
“Your first child is your last doll and your first grandchild is your first baby” Russian ProverbToday we are witnessing a new breed of grandmother. She is energetic, better educated, healthy, youthful and resourceful. She is also a busy person who may live a long way from her family and grandchildren, or have a demanding job. She wants to have a close relationship with her grandchild/ren because she knows that emotional bonds nurture warm and loving attachments but often the physical distances between families or the busy lifestyles they lead, can become obstacles in nurturing those attachments. Sadly, this can result in children not having as many opportunities to mix with older adults or spend quality time with their grandparents.Grandparents are a significant other in the life of their grandchild/ren. Older people are the history of a family, the role models, the mentors and the listeners. They are the `step removed’ from the everyday chores, demands and child rearing challenges that parents and primary caregivers face daily. This places them in a unique situation. The love and support that older people have to offer children, will have a profound effect on their childhood experiences and create fond memories of growing up. Grandparents therefore, play a vital role in the lives of children and books can facilitate that connection in a unique way.
BOOKS AND STORY TIME
Books enjoyed by children and adults can become effective tools for forming attachments because they enable both to share fun and intimate reading experiences. It is important to choose carefully the books you want to share and read with your grandchild. Don’t be tempted to buy books based simply on their price tag. There are many books related to that first and third generation connection. Sad and funny stories, plots that involve courageous grandparents, feisty grandmothers and adventurous grandfathers. All of them offer unique opportunities for children to get to know or learn about older people and develop more positive attitudes towards aging. If you live far from each other and are unable to read books consider the value of oral story telling especially with older grandchildren. As an older adult you make an excellent history teacher because you have experienced the history they are learning about. You can also draw on your experiences to teach your grandchildren valuable life skills.
Discussions from story books open windows of opportunity for endless shared memories and teachable moments, so when you have a chance to read to your grandchild, sit back, find a nice comfortable place to relax and read together.
TIPS WHEN READING
Reading with children, is an emotional as well as an educational experience. It sends a powerful message to the child that you value them enough to set special time aside just for them. When reading to your grandchild, you may want to consider the following tips.
- Encourage your grandchild to predict what the story might be about by looking at the front cover first.
- Try using animation in your voice, especially with books that have rhyming words.
- Encourage your younger grandchild to participate in repetitive rhymes `with you’.
- Let your older grandchild read the story back `to you’.
- Add characters to stories with basic plots especially if children like the story re-read many times.
- Use different voices for the different emotions or characters in the story.
- Model rhythm of language-it builds phonemic awareness and requires a child to focus on sounds `inside’ words.
- Talk about the story- connect the characters, storyline and pictures to similar events in your own lives.
- Ask open-ended questions that invite personal responses. For example; What do you think this book is about? What was your favourite part of the story? Why?
- The best reading occurs face to face but with a little imagination it can also occur by telephone or through the internet.
- Don’t let distance prevent that generation connection. Keep the communication flowing through email, letters, cards, internet, or fax.
- Send picture books to your younger grandchild, send books of interest to your older grandchild and then discuss it with them on the telephone.
I truly believe, there has never been a more needed time to encourage the development of that connection between first and third generation and books can play a vital role in nurturing that attachment. Get creative and find ways to stay connected to your grandchildren even if you live far from each other.
The memory of your relationship with them, is the ultimate legacy you will leave them behind.